Overcome Productivity Barriers

Post updated on August 5th, 2015

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Do you decide how your business day goes or are you overcome by events (OBE)? OBE is an old military term meaning something you planned to do has been run-over by unexpected events.

  • A sales presentation is scrapped because the client went with another company
  • A talented recruit accepted an offer from a competing firm
  • The government changed the rules and your plans don’t comply with new regulations

We rarely get an event to go exactly as planned. Somewhere along the way, something comes up that makes us adjust to the surprising variable. There’s not much we can do about that except improvise, adapt and overcome new barriers to success. But in the normal course,  the closer you can stick to your plan for the day the more productive you will be. What is most important for you to get done today? Do those things before you’re overcome by events.

How can we know what’s most important on our to-do list? Jim Koch, founder of Boston Brewing, has a best practice to list the three most important things to get done that day. Then he does them. Prioritizing tasks can become a Gordian Knot. Too often we resort to putting out fires for seemingly urgent things that aren’t truly important.

Amp Productivity Via Pre-Sorted To-Do List

The key is to always have current, pre-sorted to-do lists to drive productivity higher. I use Next Step notes in Evernote, tagged by state, that is the location and tools available to get something done. My  to-do lists are accessible anytime from all of my devices. I use four criteria based on the Eisenhower Decision Matrix to pre-sort my to-do lists as I process my collection points (paper and digital in-boxes). I call them the four-D’s of to-do list management.

  1. Do tasks that are urgent and important. Add a next step note and state tag.
  2. Delegate tasks that urgent but not important. Add a next step note and Waiting tag.
  3. Defer tasks that are not urgent but important. Add to Maybe Later notebook.
  4. Delete tasks that are not urgent nor important. Send to trash.

Process your collection points with the four-D’S to have pre-sorted to-do lists. You will be more productive and have a strong sense of finishing each day. Try it tomorrow. Let me know how it went.

How do you improvise, adapt and overcome challenges? Please add your comments below!

For more tips on how to get your life’s work done, read my post What To Do When You’re Overcome By Events.

Michael Shelton is the owner and chief consultant of Shelton Business Services, LLC

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